Published by Tor Teen on June 13th, 2017
Genres: young adult, fantasy, romance
Format: ebook, 382 pages
Amazon & Goodreads
In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.
Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.
To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.
Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.
She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.
Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.
I was a skeptical lil’ nugget going into this one. I have this friend, bless her heart, who gets to read at work. (Life is not fair, I tell you. She is a lucky woman.) But anyway, my point: she is a super fast reader already, so the fact that she also gets to read at work means she flies through books in the blink of an eye while it takes me 58 minutes just to read a single page1. So she reads all these cool books, navigating through all these awesome worlds, and I sit here like a potato on a log. (I don’t know what that potato is doing on a log, just go with it.) And, since we are friends, she knows what I like to read and what I don’t like to read, for the most part.
One day, she texted me and told me to read Roar. Being that little skeptical toad, I said, “Naaaah…” because, like every book blogger in the history of ever, I already had too much to read. I’m sure you sympathize. But she persisted. Because she knows me. So I eventually gave in, like the wee pushover that I am.
And so I read it, and at first… it was definitely a weird concept, and at one point in the very beginning (first chapter, if I recall correctly), I silently prayed to myself that it would get better (And I think I attribute this to it being kind of confusing because the concept of controlling storms was just WAY out there).
Just to be clear, I’d never read anything by Cora Carmack before. I knew she was well-liked for some other series she’d penned, but I had never really expressed any interest in them. This was her first YA fantasy novel. (Although she definitely doesn’t write like it’s her first young adult fantasy!!!)
1Is this an exaggeration? Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps you’ll never know.
Aurora, or Rora as she’s sometimes called, is the heir to the Pavan kingdom, where its royalty (Stormlings) keeps their lands safe from dangerous storms. They rule the storm via Stormhearts, basically the “heart of a storm” can be used to counteract against the storm and disintegrate it. The affinities of certain storms (lightning, thunder, rain, fire, sand, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.) are yours at birth, and the Stormhearts are passed down from generation to generation. But you can also add to your affinities by conquering a new storm that you can’t yet control — and to do this, you need to reach inside the storm and obtain its heart — without dying. If you manage it, then the affinity is yours, and will thus be passed down to your children. (As I kept reading, I was intrigued by how the authors gave the storms human-like qualities — like they are monsters that must be battled.)
But Aurora, a Stormling royal, was born with no storm magic at all.
She would pretend that she did not desperately wish she were better. Different. More.
Aurora and her Queen mother have hidden this huge fact from the entire kingdom, and to temporarily fix this situation, Aurora is arranged to be married to the youngest prince of Locke, who will come to Pavan to live with her and be her king. (Thought running through my head: HOW THE HECK DO THEY KEEP THIS KIND OF THING HIDDEN???) It’s a suspicious union, and she definitely can’t trust any of his motives to want to come to Pavan to live under her rule, but it’s the best shot they have.
Despite having no storm affinities, she makes up for it by cultivating other qualities it takes to make a ruler. She spends her days confined to the inner and outer parts of the castle, and never has the same servants for too long — for fear they’ll find out about her shortcomings — but she is truly smart, skilled in combat thanks to the training of her guards, and mentally strong. She was quite a likeable character! I didn’t have any qualms about her personality, so yay!2 She was a strong female lead, although her situation left her ignorant in some parts of the book — but that is totally not her fault.
One evening, she follows her disguised betrothed into the city, only to discover the “black market” of storm magic and stormhunters. And she learns that you don’t actually have to be born with storm affinities to be able to control storms — and so there is hope for her!
2I hate hate hate unlikeable characters!!1!! Go away, gnarly novel gnomes! (Try saying that 5 times fast.)
When Rora meets Locke, a man whom uses his place of birth as a nickname to disguise himself, she is sucked into his world of stormhunting — they look for fights with the elements to gain their magic and sell in the black market for $moolah$. Rora — or Roar, as she dubs herself, because she doesn’t want anyone knowing she’s an ungifted princess of Pavan! — convinces Locke to let her tag along after she deems her betrothed extremely untrustworthy. Plus, she may find a way to get her lightning affinity that she was supposed to born with, so she’s possibly got that going for her. What could go wrong???
Her heart thrilled at the sound of that nickname. It was blank. Unfinished. Filled with so much possibility. Aurora had kingdom-sized baggage attached, but Roar was whomever she wanted her to be.
I really appreciated the relationship between Roar and Locke — it reminded me of some of my favorite enemy-turned-more-than-friends relationships (Aelin and Rowan in the Throne of Glass series, and Feyre and Rhys in the ACOTAR series). Basically, the male is trying teach the female, but she is slightly stubborn and hard-headed. Classic. I really looked forward to the light romantic scenes — it was romance done right!
And the thing about it is: I don’t exactly not trust her betrothed, Cassius of Locke. Sure, he had some shady things about him, but I mostly believe everything Rora saw about him was a false front, a faςade. I think he is actually a good person, and even the revelation at the end — about why he traveled across the continent to marry into another kingdom — left me feeling unsatisfied about his true self. I want so badly to see his actions justified in a way that doesn’t harm anyone else! (PLEASE, CORA.)
The ending was gratifying, but at the same time, I need a sequel in my hands! That’s the trouble with reading new debuts that will ultimately have sequels: the WAIT. I do not like to wait, I am what people like to call impatient. I threaten those who mouth patience with sporks to the shins.
I’ll be nice, though.
If there’s a YA fantasy you NEED to read this year, it would have to be this one. The whole concept of fighting storms is just SO unique that you’d be a fool to pass it up. A FOOL, I TELL YOU. It was honestly hard to put down once I got going. I had to do annoying things in between chapters, like go to work … and do chores. I recommend throwing away all other priorities to read this book.
Well look at that… it’s Monday again. How does it get here so fast??? Rosie usually doesn’t gripe too much about Mondays though (Tuesdays are the true enemy). Rosie is currently in a Game of Thrones hangover because OH EM GEE THAT EPISODE WAS BOMB. She is also thinking about breakfast, and maybe a second cup of coffee, and also reading Three Dark Crowns because she’s already 50 pages in and vastly enjoying the concept and characters. Yay! Countdown to Kings’ Island: TWO DAYS! Happy Monday, my peeps!